Politics and the tragic events in Colorado, and now Wisconsin, have overshadowed news this summer that should be of paramount concern to our leaders in Washington. It concerns the war being waged against the United States and Israel since the ayatollahs seized power in Iran and the chants of “Death to America” that have emanated from Tehran for decades.
According to Reuters, NYPD intelligence analysts have determined that the Islamic Republic of Iran and its terrorist proxies were behind nine plots targeting Israelis and Jews outside of Israel just in this year alone. Of course, less than a year ago US officials determined the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite and clandestine Qods Force was behind a plot targeting foreign officials and facilities in Washington, DC. It is the Qods Force that manages plots of concern to the NYPD.
For those unfamiliar with this entity, the Qods (Arabic for Jerusalem) Force is a special operations division nominally within the command of the Revolutionary Guard. It was literally created with a mandate from the government of Iran to fund, train, equip, even create Islamic terrorist groups capable of helping Tehran achieve a central goal as part of the regime’s agenda: to undermine the US, Israel, and our allies — by force.
On behalf of Iran’s all powerful unelected officials like Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, it is the Qods Force that today manages relations between the Islamic Republic and the world’s deadliest militant Islamists, including Hezbollah, Hamas, lethal factions of the Afghan Taliban, and Al Qaeda.
In the post-9/11 era, for most Americans the unchecked existence of an official state entity that sponsors terrorism much in the same way that USAID promotes economic development, confounds our sense of Washington’s priorities.
What is perhaps hardest for members of our society to grasp is that for Iran terrorism became a key instrument of foreign policy the moment the ayatollahs came into power. And according to some terrorism experts, it is because of Washington’s inaction in the face of Iran-backed attacks like the 1983 bombing that killed 241 US servicemen in Beirut, the 1996 attack on the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 more American soldiers, the regime’s permissiveness regarding the presence of Al Qaeda leaders hidden within its borders, and its provision of training and weapons to insurgent groups that have killed scores of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11, that this regime continues to use of terrorism to advance its agenda.
Why do most Americans find these things difficult to believe? Because our leaders have refused to acknowledge that Iran has been at war with the “Great Satan” (i.e. America) and the “Little Satan” (Israel) since the Revolution came to power.
Put simply, America’s presidents and too many of their advisers have discounted the threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
At first, they preferred instead to focus on threats like those posed by the Soviet Union.
Then, following the 9/11 attacks on our homeland, decision makers in Washington emphasized the importance of dismantling Al Qaeda's global network — and they clearly overlooked that Al Qaeda might have foundered following 9/11 were it not for Iran’s support, or that it might not have even been able to pull off the 9/11 attacks without help from Iran.
Certainly, the pursuit of Saddam's ouster following 9/11 was also a great distraction from the possibly bigger problems to be caused by the ayatollahs in neighboring Iran, who did not hesitate to fuel a civil war in Iraq, or to send into Iraq some of the most lethal equipment used to kill American soldiers there.
Perhaps, in the case of our current president, the can is being kicked because the killing of Al Qaeda leaders just polls better than clenching a fist at Tehran.
So why do our leaders prefer to kick the can down the road on this issue? In Beltway speak: Because this is such a “complex” phenomenon. Translation: Most analysts agree that nothing short of regime change will curtail Iran’s sponsorship of terrorists who target Americans and our allies globally. And, politically, that’s not a simple proposition.
A stated objective in Iran is “spreading the Revolution,” a task that’s been delegated to the Revolutionary Guard and its Qods Force. To “spread the Revolution” is to destroy America and Israel.
Is it prudent to discount Iran’s ability to accomplish this terrible goal? Well, sure. But policymakers in Washington continue to discount not just Iran's abilities, but also its Supreme Leaders’ stated objectives — and therein lies the danger.
If a regime like the one led by the ayatollahs in Iran says it’s at war with you, you should expect trouble. And without a comprehensive strategy focused on containing the Qods Force, and disrupting this regime’s relations with the world’s deadliest terrorists, America should continue to expect trouble.
The Islamic Republic of Iran today appears within arm’s reach of nuclear weapons. At the same time it is at our peril that Congress and the White House refuse to make it a priority to pass legislation like the bipartisan bill introduced this year titled the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act. That bill would at least make countering the presence of the Qods Force and Iran’s terrorist proxies in our own backyard an official feature of US foreign policy.
Iran’s increasingly aggressive posture is something America can no longer afford to ignore. As the NYPD’s recent report on this issue indicates if Washington continues to kick this can down the road, it may soon blow up in all of our faces.
Michael S. Smith II is a principal and co-founder of Kronos Advisory, counter-terrorism adviser to members of the United States Congress, and a senior analyst with Wikistrat Ltd. Follow him on Twitter@MichaelSSmithII.